Oil recovery using Smart Water technology (SWF) can be maximized by optimizing the composition of injected water. Brine optimization is also believed to improve Polymer Flooding (PF) performance. The present study aims to assess and define the potential impact of combining Smart Water with Polymer Flooding, based on the sulphates presence in formation/injection water and rock composition. In this work, we study the impact of sulphates (sodium sulphates) on polymer viscoelasticity and its performance in porous media, based on oil recovery and pressure response.

Brine composition is optimized after having synthetic sea water (SSW) as a base brine. Brine optimization is performed by doubling the amount of sulphates, whilst diluting (in fresh water) the SSW-brine to a tenth of its initial concentration. Thus, four brines were utilized: 1) SSW (formation water), 2) SSW but double sulphates, 3) SSW/10 and 4) Brine 2/10. The workflow included core plugs aging prior core flooding. Secondary tertiary and quaternary mode experiments were performed to evaluate the feasibility of applying both processes.

The SSW-brine optimization (a tenth of its initial concentration) resulted in a salinity of 4.2 g/L which is in good agreement with previous studies (≤5 g/L), to guarantee additional oil recovery using SWF. Polymer rheological characterization was performed over wide range of shear rates and temperatures. Sodium sulphates showed increase in polymer viscosity as compare to sodium chloride or divalent cations. Enhancement in polymer linear viscoelasticity is observed with an increase in sulphate ions concentration. Furthermore, viscosity analysis over temperature has advocated to perform the core flood experiments at 45°C. Fluids were optimized/selected using a comprehensive rheological evaluation (ηoilηpolymer=2). Optimized Smart Water with higher amount of sulphates ions has shown additional oil recovery in both secondary and tertiary mode. Moreover, polymer injection in tertiary mode after smart water injection has shown significant additional oil recovery.

This study focuses on the influence of sulphates ions on SWF and PF performance for application in sandstone reservoirs. Previous studies have mainly focused the evaluation of sulphates ions impact only in carbonate reservoirs. It is of importance to further understand/clarify the effect of sulphates for field applications of SWF and PF combined. This in turn, could lead to improve the economics of project performance, by means of incremental oil and the less polymer required.

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